With few rules or law enforcement to stop it, a cottage industry has popped up to help lottery winners avoid taxes, child support, and other debts, potentially costing the state and federal governments millions in lost revenue.
Enterprising merchants — risking charges of aiding tax evasion — are openly hawking losing lottery tickets on Craigslist and eBay to help winners offset the profits with phony gambling losses.
“If you need the losers to write off for taxes,” read one ad, since removed, from Medford. “I have 2 boxes full of Mass. losing scratch tickets.”
Other Craigslist advertisers will gladly buy your winning tickets at a discount and claim the prizes themselves — allowing real winners to potentially avoid paying taxes on the prizes as well as any court orders to garnish the payments for other debts. One poster, who listed his first name and phone number, offered to buy a $1,000 ticket for $750 and “pay the taxes” himself.
Such efforts all support a lottery-driven underground economy of sorts, one in which professional ticket cashers known as “Ten Percenters” will, for a fee, cash in winning tickets presumably so that the original owner can dodge taxes, child support payments, or other obligations. Since a Boston Globe investigation on suspected Ten Percenters was published last month, the extent of the practice has become more evident.
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